Valparaiso High School has appointed longtime assistant coach Ben Lieske as the program’s new Head Boys Basketball Coach, with the recent resignation of Barak Coolman. The appointment was approved at the May 22 Valparaiso Community Schools board meeting.
“Coach Lieske is the perfect fit to lead our program into the future,” said VHS Athletic Director Stacy Adams. “His leadership qualities, character, basketball acumen and 17 years of loyalty to Valparaiso make him the obvious pick as our head coach. Our players and community know Ben and his family, and I couldn’t be more excited to see him take this tradition-rich program to the next level.”
“I’m humbled and thankful for the opportunity to lead the Valparaiso basketball program,” Lieske said. “It’s truly a dream job for me, getting to work with our kids and continue to be part of such a passionate and supportive community.”
For 17 seasons, Lieske has been a staple in a VHS basketball program that has amassed six Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) Championships and five Sectional Championships over that period. As VHS Junior Varsity Head Coach since 2013, Lieske tallied a record of 181-32 (.850) with eight DAC championships and two undefeated seasons (2015-2016 and 2018-2019). Prior to VHS, Lieske served as Head JV Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach at Bishop Noll Institute after three seasons (2002-2005) as a manager at Valparaiso University under Scott Drew (2002-2003) and Homer Drew (2003-2005).
“Serving on the staff at Valpo for the last 17 years and living here for almost 40 years, I have had so many mentors and positive influences on my Coaching career. I fell in love with the game as a kid watching Bryce Drew and being coached by guys like Steve Osburn in Middle School and John Knauff and Bob Punter at VHS,” Lieske reflected. “I worked for Homer and Scott Drew at VU and gained a deeper understanding of its intricacies and what it takes to thrive at the collegiate level. I got my start coaching at Bishop Noll my senior year in college where I worked for Drew Trost as he began to revitalize that program. At Valpo I’m fortunate to have worked alongside great and hall of fame coaches like Chris Benedict, Bob Barthold, Bob Punter and Joe Otis.”
Lieske continued, “I have had the privilege to work with keen basketball minds like Matt Thomas and Brent Kimmel. Most recently, I am incredibly thankful for the mentorship and friendship of Barak Coolman these past eight years.”
When asked about his thoughts about the future of the program, Lieske said he can’t wait to get started. “We have a talented group returning from last year and some exciting young players. Jack Smiley is one of the best guards in the state of Indiana and we have several players who are primed and ready to develop into much greater roles next year. Most importantly, we will forge a culture of toughness and selflessness that is the foundation of
great basketball. We will extend and strengthen our ties to our community by giving back and by serving. I'm eager to continue the momentum we have with our youth programs, too.” he said. “I am so proud to be a Viking, and I can't wait to see what we can accomplish together as players and people.”
A Valparaiso native and 2002 VHS graduate, Lieske graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in history and secondary education, minoring in Native American studies, from Valparaiso University. He then earned his Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in history after completing his student teaching at Bishop Noll Institute. Since 2006, Lieske has been a teacher and coach at VHS, with coaching duties including football (2008-2014) in addition to basketball (2006-present). Off the court, he has been the sponsor of the History Club (2008-present), the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (2019-present), and was honored as a Lilly Outstanding Educator in 2017.
Lieske and his wife, Rachel (VHS Class of 2002), have two children and reside in Valparaiso.